Senior Chinese and Filipino Diplomats were meeting in Manila on Thursday (23/3/2023), to review their relations amid thorny issues, including Beijing's alarm over a Philippine decision to allow US Military presence in a northern region facing the Taiwan strait and escalating spats in the disputed South China Sea.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong and Philippine Foreign Undersecretary Theresa Lazaro led the talks aimed at assessing overall relations.
The discussions would focus on the long-seething territorial spats in the disputed waterway on Friday, The Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila said, the back-to-back meetings are the first under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, who took office in June last year.
Marcos met Chinese President Xi Jinping in a state visit to Beijing in January, where both agreed to expand ties, pursue talks on potential joint oil and gas explorations and manage territorial disputes amicably.
But the territorial conflicts have persisted as a major irritant in relations early in the six-year term of Marcos whose administration has filed at least 77 of more than 200 diplomatic protests by the Philippines, against China's increasingly assertive actions in the disputed waters since last year alone.
That included a February six incident when a Chinese coast guard ship aimed a military-grade laser that briefly blinded some crewmen of a Philippine patrol vessel off a disputed shoal.